Super Rugby power rankings: Blues exorcise ghosts in Tokyo and secure bonus point along the way

1. Hurricanes (First in NZC)
They are now top of the log on both form and numbers, and few could qualm with that. Things got typically physical against the Chiefs, but men like No 8 Gareth Evans stood tall and Beauden Barrett's brilliance was enough. Imagine what they will do when Julian Savea catches a break and his brother is back in harness?

2. Crusaders (Second in NZC)
No movement on the power rankings, but they did lose their lead in the NZ conference, courtesy of the bye. That can only spell bad news for the Sunwolves, who visit the Garden City on Saturday.

3. Lions (First in SAC)
The bye did no damage whatsoever to the Lions. They still lead the SA conference by a whopping 11 points.

4. Waratahs (First in AC)
A visit to the SCG for the first time in 35 years clearly agreed with the Tahs, who put the cleaners through the Reds in their bitter match-up. How Australian and NSW rugby will be regretting the fact that blockbusting and in-form wing Taqele Naiyaravoro has signed for Northampton Saints.

5. Highlanders (Fourth in NZC)
The Highlanders didn't play that well to beat the Brumbies 43-17, but they were far too good for ACT. The scrum, which was lambasted in some media, was not as bad as made out. But coach Aaron Mauger will demand more accuracy ahead of the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy clash with the Blues on Friday night at Eden Park.

6. Chiefs (Third in NZC)
The Chiefs are 5-2 but must have offended the propping gods after loosehead Aidan Ross went down in a heap against the Canes. At this rate, new scrum coach Nick White will be thrust into action, even though he is 43! Solomon Alaimalo is being talked up, but he needs to get his decision-making right.

7. Rebels (Second in AC)
The Rebels' depth was always going to come into question at some stage. After Will Genia was injured, they collapsed against the Jaguares and relinquished their hard-won Australian conference lead. Skipper Adam Coleman needs to be told they are playing in a competition, not a one-off test match. A draw is better than a narrow loss.

8. Bulls (Second in SAC)
Swab that man Warrick Gelant, the fullback in sterling form who crossed for a hat-trick in the demolition of the Sharks in Durban. The Bulls might just be worth keeping an eye on, as they have a favourable draw from now.

9. Brumbies (Third in AC)
We know the Brumbies have David Pocock coming back to form, a solid scrum and a reasonable goalkicker. But they have precious little else, which is why the Highlanders put 43-17 on them under the roof.

10. Sharks (Third in SAC)
The Sharks played like a side that had nothing left on the tank after an arduous and yet creditable tour of New Zealand. Their defence, however, which was leaky on these shores, was again exposed by the Bulls.

11. Stormers (Fourth in SAC)
Sorting the defence was, is and will be the top priority for a side once renowned for the most parsimonious D in the competition. They are coming off the bye, so will need to keep the Sharks quiet in Durban.

Rieko Ioane of the Blues is tackled by Curwin Bosch of the Sharks. Super Rugby match, Blues v Sharks at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. 31 March 2018 © Copyright Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / www.photosport.nz
Rieko Ioane. Source: Photosport

12. Blues (Fifth in NZC)
They Blues did it. They went to Tokyo, exorcised some ghosts, won the game and secured the bonus point along the way. Akira Ioane continued his tryscoring form, while Dalton Papali'i showed his talent with a startling solo try. But the Blues will need to be far more accurate and energised to beat the Highlanders on Friday night.

13. Jaguares (Fifth in SAC)
Buoyed by their third win of the season, against the Rebels, the Jaguares are showing more starch. Now they just need an 80-minute performance and they could lower the Brumbies, thereby hauling themselves off the bottom of the South African conference.

14. Reds (Fourth in AC)
Something is not right at the Reds after such a fine opening to the season. But Brad Thorn has said Quade Cooper is not the answer, whatever the question. The Reds will target the Chiefs scrum and seek to shut down Damian McKenzie. Good luck with that.

15. Sunwolves (Fifth in AC)
The Sunwolves presented a stiffer defensive line, which helped against the Blues. But they could not maintain it and, despite a nice try set up by Hayden Parker for Tim Lafaele, and turning over a lot of the visitors' ball, they had to cede 24-10. Now they head to NZ for a couple of soft games against the Crusaders and Hurricanes.

Jordie has graduated from being called "bub" to "udon" by his older brother.
Beauden and Jordie Barrett. Source: Photosport



Former All Blacks coach John Hart appointed one of three NZR representatives on Blues Board

Former All Blacks coach John Hart has been appointed by New Zealand Rugby to the Blues' board.

Hart, along with current NZR Board member Richard Dellabarca and current NZR Rugby Committee member Sam Lotu-Iiga have all been assigned to the board after it was announced last month that NZR had taken a 40 per cent partnership in the Super Rugby club.

NZR boss Steve Tew said it was important that the governing body's representatives on the Blues Board had proven experience in rugby, business and strong connections to the Auckland region.

"We are pleased that John, Richard and Sam are available to represent New Zealand Rugby's partnership interest in the Blues Super Rugby club.

"Their collective skills will extend the existing depth of experience of the Blues Board and in combination with other recent changes to the coaching team and re-signing and recruitment of key players, this is one of many steps to help rebuild the success of the club."

Hart coached the All Blacks between 1996 and 1999, guiding the team to 31 wins in 41 Tests before resigning after the unexpected 1999 World Cup semi-final loss to France.

He also coached Auckland to the NPC title in 1982, 1984 and 1985.

Jonah Lomu will be farewelled at a special ceremony held at Mt Eden park today.
Source: 1 NEWS


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Jamie Joseph stepping down as Sunwolves coach to focus on Japan's RWC campaign

The Sunwolves will have a fourth head coach in four seasons of Super Rugby after Jamie Joseph announced he'll stand aside in 2019.

Japan national coach Joseph will instead concentrate on preparing the Brave Blossoms for next year's World Cup, which they will host.

He will play a part in appointing next year's Sunwolves coaching staff.

Tony Brown will be favoured to be promoted from assistant coach to head coach, potentially mirroring the same transition that took place at New Zealand's Highlanders in 2017.

Joseph revealed the change at a news conference in Tokyo before the launch of events to celebrate one year to go to the World Cup.

The 48-year-old New Zealander succeeded Filo Tiatia as head coach this year and failed to prevent the Sunwolves picking up the wooden spoon for the second time in their three-year existence.

They also finished last in their inaugural 2016 campaign under Mark Hammett.

The Sunwolves, who have won six of 46 games, look set to struggle again next year.

Josephy revealed a number of his Japanese international players on the Sunwolves roster will sit out the opening rounds of Super Rugby to ensure they are peaking for the World Cup.

Former Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph. Source: Photosport


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World Rugby urges players to cover tattoos at Japan 2019 to 'respect the culture' and avoid offence

World Rugby organisers have advised players competing at the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup, as well as supporters, to cover up any tattoos in public to avoid causing offence, with markings easily mistaken to be associated with Yakuza, a Japanese mafia.

There is also an education programme put in place by the organisers, which gives information about appropriate footwear to wear indoor and outdoors.

Head of the Rugby World Cup Alan Gilpin says the Japanese people will be aware that there will be players not accustomed to Japan's culture.

"We will make (Japanese) people aware around the facilities that players will use in the country that people with tattoos in a Rugby World Cup context are not part of the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia," said Gilpin.

"That's where the issue comes from. We have done a lot in the last year or so with the teams to get them to understand that.

"When we raised it with the teams a year or so ago we were probably expecting a frustrated reaction from them but there hasn't been at all. That is a great tribute to the sport itself and to the rugby players themselves."

Gilpin also said players with tattoos are expected to cover up by wearing a vest when swimming in a public pool.

"They all also buy into the idea of putting on a rash-vest in the pool or in a gym as they want to respect the Japanese culture. If they are using a public pool they will have to cover up.

"Players will also have to wear different trainers indoors and outdoors. It will all be self-policing. We won't force any teams to cover up but they will want to because they want to be seen to be respecting the culture.

"Whether it is Scotland, Ireland, Wales or Italy, who have all been there recently, they all get it, they really do."

Beauden Barrett celebrates his try with Aaron Smith.
2nd Bledisloe Cup Test of the 2018 Investec Rugby Championship.
New Zealand All Blacks v Australia (Wallabies) at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand on 25 August 2018.
Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Beauden Barrett celebrates with Aaron Smith. Source: Photosport

The Rugby World Cup begins on September 20 in 2019 with the opening match to be played between the host nation Japan and Russia at Tokyo Stadium.

Dejected All Blacks Rieko Ioane and TJ Perenara seen after their team's loss during the 2018 Rugby Championship between All Blacks vs South Africa at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, Saturday 15th September 2018. Copyright Photo: Raghavan Venugopal / © www.Photosport.nz 2018
Dejected All Blacks Rieko Ioane and TJ Perenara seen after their team's loss during the 2018 Rugby Championship between All Blacks vs South Africa at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Source: Photosport


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